The Bulletin

How We Learn

Wednesday, October 2014

The October 6th New York Times ran an article entitled "Better Ways To Learn."

The article goes in-depth to explore How We Learn, and the author summed up many primary principles that mirror the way that Waldorf curriculum and classroom experiences approach learning. Learning is an actively engaging process of repetition, interpretation and reiterations.  Here are excerpted concepts from the article that are ALSO foundational principles in Waldorf education:

 

  1.  “Although a good grade may be achieved in the short term by cramming for an exam, chances are that most of the information will be quickly lost.”

  2.  “Long and focused study sessions may seem productive, but chances are you are spending most of your brainpower on trying to maintain your concentration for a long period of time. That doesn’t leave a lot of brain energy for learning.”

  3. “The brain wants variation,It wants to move, it wants to take periodic breaks.”

  4. “One way to signal to the brain that information is important is to talk about it.”

  5.  “Studies have shown that for a student to learn and retain information like historical events, vocabulary words or science definitions, it’s best to review the information one to two days after first studying it.”

  6.  “Not surprisingly, sleep is an important part of good studying. The first half of the sleep cycle helps with retaining facts; the second half is important for math skills.”

 

This gives insight into the Waldorf approach to storytelling, writing, taking dictation, lesson review, all processes of repetition and reinterpretation of core concepts across verbal, written, and physical demonstrations key to learning.

Read the full NYTimes article here.
Written by Tara Parker-Pope for the New York Times / the "Well Column"  /  Illustration by Stuart Bradford

The Pen is Mighitier Than The….Keyboard!

Wednesday, October 2014

Here is a new article about the value of manual inscription (i.e. writing) over keyboard typing as a valuable learnig tool. The slower, focused, intentional process of handwriting supports the Waldorf way that has students learning penmanship, writing with fountain pens, learning cursive in grade school and manually writing and illustrating their block books every day until the end of Middle School (and Waldorf High School students often continue the tradition of manual writing in their work even as they incorporate keyboarding and computers into their research and writing methods). Why? Because "handwriting is important for brain development and cognition."

Here is an excerpt from the full article:

The Benefits Of Writing
With Good Old Fashioned Pen And Paper

Do students learn better by typing on a keyboard or writing with pen and paper?

In 2013 Patricia Ann Wade, a learning specialist with Indiana University's School of Medicine, found herself investigating this question, one she had been asked by time-crunched medical students again and again. The answer, she found, was not simple.

"If they were in a lecture, where the professor talked so quickly that even if they were typing they couldn't get down everything said, I would say, 'Go with typing as opposed to handwriting,'" Wade told The Huffington Post. "If all you're doing is acting as a scribe, there are clear benefits to typing." But there were also strong arguments to be made for old fashioned pen and paper, she discovered. Ultimately, "when it comes to learning and remembering course material, the pen is mightier than the keyboard," she wrote in a blog post on the topic, for the medical school's website.

For tech-phobes and writing purists, here are just a few of the benefits of writing with a pen and paper. (And yes, we acknowledge you're reading this story -- which was written on a laptop -- online.)

It fires up the brain in different ways.

In a small study published this spring, researchers had college students listen to various TED lectures and then take notes -- either longhand or on their computers. Students who typed were more likely to take notes verbatim, which "hurts learning," the researchers concluded. And indeed, those students scored worse overall when tested on their grasp of the facts and their conceptual understanding.

"Study after study suggests that handwriting is important for brain development and cognition," argued a 2010 article from The Week, citing work from University of Wisconsin psychologist Virginia Berninger, who has tested school-age children and found they tend to generate more ideas when composing essays by hand, rather than on the computer. "Writing entails using the hand and fingers to form letters ... the sequential finger movements activate multiple regions of the brain associated with processing and remembering information," echoed Wade.

It slows you down. In a good way.

The average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute, which has clear benefits when speed is the primary objective. Writing with a pen and paper, on the other hand, "requires more mental energy and engages more areas of the brain than pressing keys on a computer keyboard," Wade wrote. And because it is slower, handwriting can be particularly useful during goal setting, brainstorming and the so-called "retrieval phase of studying," she argues -- all pursuits that require time and deliberation.

"When you're writing out something, the natural inclination is to do it as quickly as possible so you can get it over with," echoed Thorin Klosowski, in a LifeHacker post on simplifying one's life through the use of pen and paper. "Paper slows me down and forces me to think a little bit longer about what I'm doing."....

 

“The tried and true tool of choice for generations of monks, philosophers, and scribes, pen and paper are still a valid choice when you need to focus.”
                                                          - Dustin Wax

It sparks creativity.

This last one is impossible to quantify, of course, but as writer Lee Rourke explained in a post for The Guardian (called, appropriately, "Why Creative Writing Is Better With The Pen"): "For me, writing longhand is an utterly personal task where the outer world is closed off, just my thoughts and the movement of my hand across the page to keep me company. The whole process keeps me in touch with the craft of writing. It's a deep-felt, uninterrupted connection between thought and language which technology seems to short circuit once I begin to use it."

The legion of famous writers who purport to use only pen and paper suggests there might be something to the notion that it somehow boosts creative output: Quentin Tarantino claims to write all of his scripts longhand, telling Reuters, "I used red and black [pens]. One of the great things about being a writer is it gives you complete license to have whatever strange rituals make you happy and productive." Joyce Carol Oates now writes the first draft of all of her novels on pen and paper, as does Jhumpa Lahiri, according to Mashable.

By Catherine Pearson for Huffington Post  ●  Posted: 09/12/2014  (Photo by Adrian Samson)

Waldorf Students Exhibit with Other Artists in the Neighborhood

Tuesday, September 2014

Join Chicago Waldorf School at this year's

Edgewater Fall Art Fair 2014

Saturday & Sunday, Sept 27th & 28th

 

A number of CWS student artists will be featured in this year's "Young Artists Gallery." exhibiting the work of local grade school and high school students. Visit the gallery and storefront on Granville between Broadway and Kenmore from 11am to 6pm on both days. And then see the rest of the festival including 100 exhibiting artists, listen to live music on 3 stages, enjoy the young Children's Activity Corner and Children's Music Talent showcase .

 

 Come out and support our student artists!

For more information about the fair visit:  http://edgewaterartists.com

Chicago Waldorf will be participating with students from eight area schools:

Tech’s Top Guru Actually Practiced Tech-Free Parenting

Wednesday, September 2014

Add Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of--and many would argue; the guiding spirit and embodiment of his company--Apple Computers to the growing list of tech execs who preserved "Low-Tech" childhoods for their kids. Many leaders in the Tech industry are sending their kids to Waldorf schools across the country. This profile of Steve Jobs, in last weeks New York Times, shows that the Jobs family followed the practices and embraced the same core values about child development that have been held by Waldorf Schools for the last 100 years. Kids don't need computers until they get older! Nothing is lost by having them wait; and in fact much is gained by the focus and interpersonal experiences students have when they aren't distracted by technology and mobile media. Need we say more? Lets let Steve's family's home life explain the rest...

 

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

Publisher: the NEW YORK TIMES    /    By Nick Bilton   /    SEPT. 10, 2014

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends. I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night. Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t....

Here is the full article at the New York Times. And here is a video and media archive if you'd like to read more about Waldorf Education in the News.

“The Waldorf Approach” is featured in Seattle News

Wednesday, September 2014

Waldorf Schools around the globe share the same measured approach to screens, digital media, smart-phones, computer games and interactions in online communities and social media. In the Waldorf view, these are all great aspects and experiences of our modern society, but NOT FOR GROWING KIDS! They are NOT necessary--in fact they are distractions from --the educational, emotional, and developmental needs of the growing child.

Professionals in theTech industry know this, even Steve Jobs knew this (and prohibited his kids from using ipads and digital devices at home)! Network News Channels have been covering a growing trend in the education field for families who are seeking out schools and educational models that focus on their students' experiences rooted in the here and now, the tangible world, and in personal connections and face-to-face communications. Here is the latest profile, from Seattle Refined/KOMO News of "The Waldorf Approach" to education, as showcased at the Seattle Waldorf High School. Read excerpts below or read the entire article here.

 

A "No Technology" School: The Waldorf Approach

Seattle Refined & KOMO News     /     By Tonya Mosley    /      Published: Sep 16, 2014


On the first day of school, Tracy Bennett and staff members at Seattle’s Waldorf High School stood on the shores of Lake Washington to welcome one of its students. The high schooler had swam across the lake from his home on the eastside to class at his high school’s new home in Magnuson Park.

Several other students rode in on their bicycles, and only a handful arrived by car.

“That’s our students,” chuckled Bennett, the head of administration at the only Waldorf high school in the state. “They’re always on the move.”

Educators at the Waldorf School in Seattle take a lot of pride in showing off just how handy, athletic and artistic their students are. The high school students are, after all, on the last leg of their Waldorf experience – a culmination of 12 years of education almost entirely free of television, video games, computers and smartphones. 

Said Bennett about Waldorf parents, “They want their children to be children. We are not anti-technology. We just believe it is one tool in the box.”

Brenda Baker, admissions and coordinator for Waldorf continues. “It’s about developing and honing the power of observation. Our students are highly curious and creative. The sensory experience gets to the heart of learning. Bringing in technology at a later age gives them the tools to discern the best times to use it.”

Here is the full article. If you'd like to see more national media coverage of Waldorf eduation, please view the "Waldorf In the News" archive.

Welcome New 2014-15 CWS Faculty

Thursday, September 2014

The Parent Teacher Organization welcomes all new (and returning) families to Chicago Waldorf School. To help introduce you to the members of our community, here are profiles of new faculty who have joined our school (or taken on new responsibilities). We welcome these experienced teachers, active parents and especially our fantastic Waldorf alumni; many who are bringing their love of Waldorf education back to the school. They have come full cycle to return as teachers and mentors to the children.

Here is the September 2014 PTO Voices newsletter:

 

We are very excited to introduce the New Faculty for the 2014-2015 school year.
Let’s give this talented and enthusiastic group a warm CWS welcome!

New Faculty for 2014-2015

Reform, How? Students Discuss the State of Education Today

Tuesday, August 2014

Waldorf Student Featured in WBEZ's "Student Stories"

Olivia Love-Hatlestad is a typical, spirited Waldorf student who attended the Da Vinci Waldorf School in Wauconda, IL through most of her adolescence including grade school, middle school and into her 9th grade year. Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, invited students from all walks of life to share their impressions on the state of education. Olivia's essay was selected and highlighted recently in WBEZ's "Student Stories" on Education (in part because she had the valuable perspective of having attended both a Waldorf school and Public school and because she makes very eloquent points of comparison about schooling in the current state of education).

WBEZ followed up by inviting Olivia for a personal interview this past July asking her and Walter Payton High School student Troy Boccelli to discuss their experiences in High School. It provides great insight into Waldorf education.

Click here for the FULL PROFILE on WBEZ's web page and below read some excerpts from her interview with NPR reporter Becky Vevea.
 

** Hear Olivia's full radio interview in her own words and then read her essay. **

 

Excerpts from her interview and essay on Waldorf education:

"Every morning our teachers shook our hands and asked us how we were. They cared about us, and made the consistent effort to connect with and understand us. We not only learned the (what I now realize is invaluable) skill of engaging in conversation with an adult, but we developed deeply respectful relationships with our teachers. We were inspired to strive for excellence not by the pressure put on a grade, but by the desire to please these mentors to whom we looked up so earnestly."

 “The [teachers] could tell if you were sick or if you were faking sick or if you needed help outside of class because they knew you and they actually cared about you. And then I entered public school, where, to know our last names, teachers had to check a roster.”

She talked a lot about giving students individual attention and really focusing on comprehension, rather than memorizing facts, something she thinks public schools focus far too much on.

“I retained, like, zero information, because what’s being given to us are packets and lists of names and dates that we have to memorize,” Love-Hatlestad said. “That’s in one ear and out the other. And sure I can retain it long enough to be assessed on it and since that’s all that matters, that’s fine. That’s been swept under the rug. The actual comprehension is kind of just a byproduct. It’s a bonus, like if you actually get it that’s great, but you don’t really have to.”

"There is study of other cultures in multiple classes, drawing parallels between them.  Religion is not pushed, but multiple religions are studied, so that students may better understand the world as a whole.There are a wide range of subjects, all required, so that each student can discover his/her passion, and pursue it. No one feels talentless or worthless, because differences are not only celebrated, they are nurtured."

Connect with Chicago Waldorf School This Summer

Thursday, June 2014

Stay connected with us by participating in one of the Chicago Waldorf School’s summer events.  March in a parade amid the cheering crowds, visit us at one of our booths at Edgewater EdgeFest or at the Glenwood Ave Arts Festival, or come hang out with other CWS families at Albion beach on Tuesdays. 
 


Chicago Parades- Come March with Us!!

Sunday June 29th –  45th Annual Chicago Pride Parade (11:30am-1:00pm)

Friday July 4th –  Evanston’s 4th of July Parade (12:30pm-3:00pm)

For those younger and older participants―or just the sun shy―we have seating with cool drinks on the CWS bus which will drive in both parades.

Please RSVP to Jennifer Zielinski at 773-828-8468 or jzielinski@chicagowaldorf.org. RSVPs are important so we can provide adequate event materials, water and reserve seats on the bus.

 


 

Chicago Neighborhood Festivals

August 2 & 3 – Edgewater EdgeFest (11am-5pm)

August 16 & 17 – Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival (12pm-5pm)

Either volunteer to sit with us under the tent or stop by to say hello; we love looking for a reason to chat and share whats special about Waldorf education with others in our city. 
 

CWS Tuesday Summer Beach Days at Albion Beach

All Summer Long - starting June 17th (10am-4pm)

Get together with new, current and alumni CWS families at Albion Beach any Tuesday (weather permitting) this summer. Look for the big red CWS sun umbrella.  Sponsored by the Parent Ambassadors group.

Questions! Contact Jennifer Zielinski at 773-828-8468 or jzielinski@chicagowaldorf.org

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